With the 2008 Presidential primaries only six months away, the first major round of campaign ads are beginning to make an appearance on the internet and in key early primary states. I've decided to take a look at some notable ads of the Presidential race.......
1. Bill Richardson-- "Job Interview"
This ad works really well for Richardson on several levels. There's little doubt that he's one of the most experienced and qualified candidates in either party (maybe THE most experienced and qualified), and this ad effectively communicates this strength. The humorous presentation of Richardson's impressive resume allows for his greatest achievements to be touted while avoiding a self-defeating aura of arrogance. Because of his position among "the second tier" democratic candidates, it is vital that Richardson clearly and effectively define himself as a serious contender and attempt to separate himself from the rest of the often forgettable candidates that lack the superstar persona of Hillary and Barack. This latest ad does a great job of lending significant credibility to Richardson as a Presidential candidate. It's hard not to be impressed by the list of accomplishments the ad rattles off ("fourteen years in Congress, UN ambassador, secretary of energy, governor of new mexico"...among other things). The punchline that follows from the less than professional interviewer ("So, what makes you think you can be President?") provides a quick yet powerful jab at anyone who would suggest that Richardson is not the most capable candidate to handle the weight of the Presidency from day one. Richardson's "Job Interview" is a highly memorable and effective because it communicates a pointed message in a strong manner.
2. Fred Thompson--"Mental Institution, Michael"
While Thompson has yet to officially declare his candidacy, there is little question that he will enter the race within the coming weeks. His brief tiff (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,272558,00.html) with Michael Moore in early May over Moore's latest film "Sicko" provided the spark for this ad (if one can even call it that) that has circulated exclusively over the internet. I think Thompson handled Michael Moore's challenge to a health care debate in a very smart--perhaps presidential--manner. Accepting Moore's challenge would have placed Thompson in a lose/lose situation while providing a certain degree of legitimacy to the extremely partisan Moore as a mainstream political figure. Engaging in a public forum with Michael Moore would be an unwise course of action for any presidential candidate--it's the age old problem of "wrestling with the pig". While taking aim at Moore's film in an article for the National Review may have helped Thompson rally support from the conservative base, focusing too much time and attention towards a continual dialouge/debate with Moore would have been more costly than benefical. This brief response by Thompson provided a decisive and humorous end to his squabble with Moore. The ad presents a Fred Thompson who is still commited to his initial conviction on the "Sicko" issue, yet is able to not take Michael Moore too seriously (which is very important for any candidate). In the end, Thompson was able to properly address Moore's challenge in a manner that was not overly partisan, yet still played to the staunch members of the Republican Party.
I think the intent of this ad is blatantly clear. With the apparent implosion of the McCain campaign, and the emergence of Fred Thompson as a serious contender, MItt Romney has been working hard to prevent the social conservative vote from exclusively supporting Thompson. While the primary objective of the ad--to present Romney as a dependable, true conservative--is an important goal that the Romney campaign must achieve to survive, I don't believe this specific ad is very effective. In some respects, it's too much of a stereotypical campaign ad: The scene opens with melodramatic piano music and a shot of an off-color ocean wave. In comes the overdubbed audio of a concerned, yet determined politician recounting the many troubles facing America's youngest children. Yet suddenly, the politician takes an optimistic turn and describes his plan to clean up the filth invading America today. Our dedicated politician tells us how he's going to put an end to the widespread presence of the pornography industry, keep drugs off the streets and away from minors, reduce the ammount of violence and sex on T.V., ect. The music quickly evolves into a more positive key, and suddenly the image of the ocean water turns from a muddy brown to a crystal-clear blue--and now we know that our concerned politician is going to "clean up the waters that our kids live in". By this point, any observer who is still taking this ad seriously was probably going to vote for Romney anyway. But for the rest of us, Romney's "Ocean" ad provides little more than fresh material to satirize the current political landscape. The ad substitutes alot of well-worn, hollow political rhetoric in place of any meaningful dialouge about Romney's concrete plans to uphold the Conservative mantle. Romney's reference to Peggy Noonan is an obvious attempt to align himself with the old Reagan camp, yet even Noonan can't save this ad.
That's about all I can talk about for now, but I would definitely check out these out as well........
Hillary Clinton--"Sopranos Parody"
Not really an ad, but worth watching. Though Celine Dion just isn't a cool campaign song choice....